It wasn’t until my parents left our house for Labor Day weekend that I realized something:
We never have guests at our house anymore! At least, not since you were born nearly three years ago.
Earlier in the summer, your best friend Sophie spent the afternoon with us while her parents were at a wedding.
And before that, other than family…
Well over a year ago your friend Henry and his parents stopped by for the afternoon.
Other than that, though… there is no other than that.
I just never thought about it before, but a whole lot goes in to having people over at our house.
Food, entertainment, corresponding schedules with the guests, your nap schedule, your lunch and dinner schedule…
It’s just easier for us to meet people we know outside of our house. At places where we don’t have to think or plan or prepare.
We want to be hospitable. We want to be the cool family who invites people over for shindigs.
But honestly, I think a lot of people wish that. At least, it seems like that on House Hunters on HGTV. They’re always interested in finding a house with “entertaining space” because they “love to entertain guests.”
I question that they really get to throw that many parties.
Or maybe it’s just our family. Maybe we’re so far removed from that reality.
Not to mention, we live in a townhouse.
So really, now is just not the time for us to have people over very often. One day, when you get older. One day, when we move into a bigger house. One day, when it actually concerns me that hardly anyone other than you, Mommy, or me ever walks through the front door.
As for now, you’re just stuck in this house with your parents as company. Good thing you love us.
A few weeks ago, Mommy asked me if I had any idea why my weekly paycheck was significantly higher than usual. I wanted to believe that I had been given a raise by my boss, without me being notified first.
Hashtag, “wishful thinking.”
Turns out, my extra vacation days had just automatically cashed out since I didn’t take them since the anniversary of my hire date.
That’s the way it has to be, though. I have to prepare for several extra days throughout the year for you to be sick.
Fortunately, you hardly got sick this year so I didn’t need to cash in my sick days on your behalf.
As for myself, I don’t get sick either but there are definitely days I just wish I could call in sick and truly have the day off.
But then I would feel guilty driving you all the way to school for that; just to have a day with truly no responsibilities. Not to mention, I hate the thought of spending gas money on that, too.
As I write this, you’ve just fallen asleep in your room next door, Mommy is buying groceries at Whole Foods, and I am letting John Mayer’s new album, Paradise Valley, serve as my background for this quiet (for now) Saturday afternoon.
I didn’t want to feel sad right now, but I kind of do.
Just like I don’t think John Mayer intended to make a sad-feeling album, but somehow in all of its mid-tempo mellowness and subtleties, it makes me feel… almost… alone.
And that’s crazy!
The last thing I ever have time to think these days is that I feel lonely.
By default, it seems nearly impossible for me to feel that way. How could I?
We don’t have a large family. It’s just the three of us.
But having you and Mommy to need me to make your lives function right, it keeps me feeling like part of a whole that would otherwise be incomplete.
Even if we never add a fourth member to our family, we’ll still always be family. It’s us. For life.
It’s just that I am so grateful for our family. I’m so grateful for how far we’ve come and grown together:
I think about how you were brought into this world in a time when Mommy and I had just moved away from our home in Nashville, only to have to move back about 8 months later because we struggled to find jobs the whole time, and lived off our savings until they were all gone.
I think about that financial burden and how deeply that psychologically affected me. To be too honest, I’m just now realizing as I’m writing this that I am actually still finishing up the healing process from that dark time in my life.
I think about how over the past two years we’ve dug ourselves out of $58,000 of debt, becoming debt-free a few months ago, the Dave Ramsey way, not by winning the lottery or even by getting raises, but thanks to living by a merciless budget which has included zero tolerance for eating meals out, cable TV or smart phones.
We’ve paid our dues and still are.
I think about the lyrics of the Steve Miller Band song, “Jet Airliner,” where it says, “You know you got to go through hell before you get to heaven.”
Our family has officially made it through to that crossroads, that ground zero, where we can build our lives together, upwards.
I feel it. It’s like I’m standing on top of a mountain right now looking down, seeing the difficult way we got here, then turning around to see that paradise valley on the other side. It’s like I’m finally taking some time to take long deep breaths now. (Both figuratively and literally.)
Life is always uncertain, but now, it’s somehow more certain than it’s ever been or felt.
And we have each other for it. We have our family. This is me expressing gratitude. Amen.
My mom (known to you as Nonna) texted me this morning to point out the interesting fact that when I was 2 years, 9 months old, it was January 1984.
That’s when my sister (your Auntie Dana) was born. In other words, when I was your age, I became an older brother.
Just so I can put this into perspective for myself, that means that even if during the next couple of years, you end up getting a baby brother or sister, the age difference between you and him or her will definitely be greater than the age difference between my sister and me.
Each month and each year that passes in which you remain an only child, it makes me wonder if you will always be one.
Will you become that “little adult” than only children are often referred to as?
When we go on family vacations, will it just be you in goofy touristy photos like these from the Sacramento Zoo?
I mean… I’m curious, but not that curious.
There’s no sense of urgency, but I when consider I was already a big brother by your age, it does make me think about your fate of whether or not you will have a sibling.
Perhaps I write to you about the subject of “will you or will you not remain an only child?” quite often.
No, not perhaps- I totally do.
But for me, it’s not a subject to be dealt with lightly. For our family, there is a lot of careful planning and consideration involved.
By now, I’m way past caring about anyone else’s expectations of our family growing.
I’m even way past what I perceive in my own mind of what the normal American family is supposed to be; which I suppose the image I have in my head includes at least two kids and a dog.
But we’re not even a “dog family.” Or cat lovers.
We’re not animal people at all! Except for the fact we enjoy going to zoos as a type of a default hobby because our Nashville Zoo Pass is transferable to other major zoos.
Life is unfolding slightly different than I planned it. I always wanted four kids.
Then you were born. And I realized, I feel plenty enough of a dad now.
I feel like I can live my entire life satisfied in knowing I get to raise you and have a lifelong relationship with you.
You may never know what it’s like to be a big brother. Are you okay with that?
Something I am really enjoying about our vacation this year is that you have older cousins here to babysit and entertain (and “dote” on) you the entire time.
Granted, that doesn’t mean I have no responsibilities. I’m still helping with meals, baths, and bedtime. But for the most part, I sort of feel like I’m actually on vacation a little bit more than usual.
You’re having plenty of fun and it’s okay that I have more of passive role this week.
“My reasons for wanting another child, when I sporadically do, are never sincere enough or truly legitimate… If we’re going to grow our family, I want it to be ‘for the right reasons,’ and I’m not even sure what they are anyway.”
So since I wasn’t sure, I asked my friends on Facebook, “What are the “right reasons” for having another child?… What are the wrong reasons?”
My friend Alissa summed it up perfectly, in my opinion: “The right reasons are if you want another child. The wrong are if other people tell you you should.”
On top of that, my friend Rhonda gave me an answer I related to 100% at this point in my life:
“Someone asked me this the other day, and when I got honest it just came down to not wanting the responsibility & stress of more children. Selfish maybe, but true. No plans right now to have any more.”
I love her simple honesty.
It’s true for me, personally. Because it’s not that I can’t handle the responsibility and stress of a child. Instead, I am saying that the responsibility and stress of another child, in addition to one already, is enough of a reason to justify not having another child.
Others may disagree, but I don’t see anything selfish about admitting that.
I don’t see it as selfish for me to feel, think, and say out loud that you make our family complete and that if it’s up to me, at this point, I would choose not to take on more responsibility and stress like that. Again, that could change.
Like clockwork, Mommy could find out we’re having another baby around your 4th birthday. That seems to be the ironic plot line for families of three who plan to remain families of three, at least.